Editor’s note: this is a guest post by Erika Cervantes, President and Founder of Comediva.com.
Not to go all Inception on you, but I come from a writing background, so I know the power of an idea. Good ideas keep you up at night; they linger in your dreams, nag at you while you’re in the shower, and whisper in your ear when you’re driving.
When the rush of a new idea floods into my mind, it overwhelms me, shoots off every synapse and makes my blood boil with excitement. I have to do this, I think. I have to.
Over the last few years, I’ve felt this rush many times — for better or worse — as some projects have soared and others have crashed and burned. Sometimes a new idea makes my heart race for a few days, then burns away as I consider the time, energy, sweat and tears it’ll take to bring it to fruition.
Other ideas evaporate, but boomerang back to bother me once more.
Comediva was one such idea.
I first had inklings of creating a comedy site for women after I finished grad school, but at that time it seemed so insurmountable that I let the notion vanish into my mind-bank of lost ideas. I was not ready.
This untiring little idea refused to die, though, and returned the following year to boil my blood with excitement again, enough this time that I registered the domain Comediva.com in May 2009. After setting up some initial meetings, the idea faded away once more. Again, I was not ready.
The following year, the pushy b@#% now known as Comediva came back to bother me again. I remember this moment vividly. I was driving back from my parents’ house after the holidays and for no apparent reason, she popped into my mind again. I have to do this, I thought. This year. I was finally ready.
And this time, this diva idea would not die. A few months later, I had gathered a group of funny lady friends in my living room to present them my vision of a comedy site made for women. And thankfully, a few of those incredibly talented ladies believed in an idea and are still by my side today.
Weeks after that, I officially formed the company and raised my first round of seed capital. Weeks after that, we moved into our first office. After a few months of pounding music from a recording studio above us and a scary leak in the ceiling, we moved into our second office.
And a few months after that, just last week in fact, the beta version of Comediva.com went live.
It’s amazing how fast things moved once I was ready.
So why was I finally ready? Was it that I had amassed the experience, contacts, skills I needed? I don’t think so. Maybe some. But in the months that followed, I quickly realized how much I still needed to learn.
I think it was that I had finally amassed the courage.
An idea is still just an idea. As writers know, execution is everything. And as Ollin and this blog attest, courage is everything too. Courage is what it takes to go from idea to action.
First, I needed the courage to believe in my idea. Then, I needed the courage to believe in my abilities. And from there, the courage to inspire courage in my team, the courage to make tough decisions daily, and the courage to trust the process no matter how difficult it seemed. I had to grow some effing Gryffindor-style courage.
One of my favorite quotes is from Greek historian Thucydides, and it goes:
“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.”
My life fluctuates daily between courage and fear. Self-confidence and self-doubt. I imagine this is a common theme in the life of an entrepreneur in the first year of her new business, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
When I try to recall where and when exactly the Gryffindor-courage grew in me, I can only think that I had no choice. Because there comes a point where there’s no turning back. There came a point when I didn’t have the luxury of fear or self-doubt anymore. People, money, and ideas were now relying on me to have the courage for us all. And at times, this made me feel very alone.
It’s still early, too soon for me to tell what it will all mean in my life, and to the world. It’s really only the beginning.
But what I do know is that chasing my idea that wouldn’t die changed everything for me. I had no choice but to become better, smarter, stronger, braver. But after I accepted the path that this nagging idea sent me on, it became who I am. It became my life.
Ideas that won’t die are what wake us up in the morning, make us coffee, put on our make-up and shove us into our clothes. We have to chase them because we have to. We have to find out what will happen if we do. We have to try.
As writers, I know you have at least one idea that won’t die in your drawer. Or hidden in the clutter on your desk. Or tacked up in an array of Post-Its around your house. Whether it’s a novel, a project, a business idea — something about it lingers in your dreams, nags at you while you’re in the shower, and whispers in your ear when you’re driving. And it’s up to you to decide when you’re ready to begin the chase.
The ideas that won’t die are what keep us alive.
What ideas do you have that just won’t die? What can you do today to keep those ideas alive? Please share with us in the comments below.
Erika Cervantes is the President and Founder of Comediva.com. She earned her MFA in Screenwriting from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. While at USC, Erika wrote and produced ambitious short films that have screened at over 35 film festivals worldwide and won multiple “Best Short” awards, including a Student Emmy for co-writing “Turbo.” In 2007, Erika was hired to write one of the first comedic web series of its kind, a branded entertainment project co-produced by MTV and T-Mobile called “Connected.” Recently, Erika edited a parody that was named FunnyorDie’s Best User Video of 2010. Erika loves comedy, the Internets, and working with bad-ass women. That’s why she created Comediva.com, a destination for female-driven comedy.
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